LEXINGTON, Ky. — On April 4, 2015, John Calipari was the king of college basketball. He brought Kentucky to the Final Four for the fourth time in five years with a record of 38-0, setting the stage for a potential national championship. However, in a game against Wisconsin, Calipari made a questionable decision to play stall ball, which ultimately led to a devastating loss. Since then, Kentucky and Calipari have struggled to regain their former success.
After the loss, news broke that Calipari was voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. While he received congratulations, he still felt a sense of defeat. Kentucky has since had limited success, with only one NCAA Tournament win in the last three years. Calipari’s patience has decreased, and he has become less innovative and more cantankerous. The turnover in his coaching staff has also had a negative impact on the program.
Former assistants and support staff members spoke about the decline, pointing out Calipari’s impatience, lack of innovation, and his obsession with holding onto grudges. They believe that the turning point was the loss to Wisconsin in 2015, which took a toll on Calipari. Additionally, the departures of key personnel such as assistant coach Kenny Payne and deputy athletic director DeWayne Peevy have had a significant impact on the program.
Calipari’s former assistants and staff members also mentioned his decision to move trusted adviser John Robic into an off-court role, which created a void in the coaching staff. They believe that Calipari became too controlling and focused on over-coaching, which resulted in a decline in the team’s performance.
Last season, Kentucky struggled against top teams and opposing coaches criticized Calipari’s outdated offensive strategies. Overall, there seems to be an identity crisis within the program, and many question whether Calipari can recapture the magic of previous seasons.